Since moving to Florida, there are times when I feel as if I’ve landed on another planet — and it has nothing to do with the news items that have made the Sunshine State the punchline for late-night hosts. For me, the sense of wonder and bewilderment is the result of plants.
Take the desert rose, for example, the one that’s been blooming in a terra cotta pot beside the front door for five years. This plant was my first foray into the world of desert roses, a rose that isn’t a rose but more of a flowering succulent. I’ve loved the plant so much that I’ve even started some from purchased seeds and rooted cuttings. It’s an easy, no-fuss, drought-tolerant plant that even iguanas ignore (mostly).
A short time ago, Joe and I left on a road trip and I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary with my desert rose. One week later, upon our return, it looked as if it had grown a green mustache — either that, or some alien life form had hitched a ride on a meteor and rained down on my yard.
A little research later, I learned this was actually a seedpod — the first time any of my desert roses had produced a pair of seedpods — and that they should remain on the plant until they split. That’s when the seeds can be harvested and planted.
Now, each day — really, each time I walk in and out of the front door — I find myself examining these matching pods for any sign of a split. So far, nothing — just one beautifully groomed seed mustache from outer space — and one very eager gardener.
When it comes to fabulous flower faces, orchids are always the scene stealers. They’re the ones that get passersby to stop and stare. They’re the ones that get the awards and command top dollar at flower sales.
Not too long ago, Joe and I stopped into a local antique store. It was a Sunday and the store was supposed to be closed, but the owner had some paperwork to do. When she saw us peering in the window, she invited us in.
Spring in South Florida is plant sale season. Cities and garden clubs throughout the region are hosting sales of flowering shrubs, palms, exotics, and native plants — and very often, gardeners drive a long way to find their perfect plant, a great deal, or both.
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the arrival of spring than with a display of vibrant colors, a site for eyes sore from the dreary grays of winter. Even South Florida, often accused of not actually having a change of seasons, wants to get in on the spring act.
When I first heard of Tree Tops Park, I imagined a public park with treehouses and tree walkways to give visitors a bird’s-eye view among the branches and canopy. In reality, the only thing to climb is an observation tower — otherwise, visitors keep their feet on the ground and look upward. No matter how you look at them, though, the trees at Tree Tops Park are tops.
This is the time of year when I feel the most out of step with my fellow gardeners and the readers of this blog. You see, this is the start of South Florida’s growing season — the orchids (above) are currently blooming in my garden. Nurseries are overflowing with plant selections and cold fronts bring delightful weather rather than snow and ice.